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28 June 2018
2018 UNA-USA Leadership Summit Advocacy Day
Advocacy_DayOn Tuesday, June 12th, UNA-USA members from across the country visited almost 500 offices on Capitol Hill in one of our largest advocacy pushes in history. UNA-NCA members visited the offices of their Congressional representatives from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. As part of this initiative, under the leadership of UNA-NCA staff, our members from DC visited an additional 180 Representatives and Senators offices’ to advocate for continued U.S. support of the UN and their mission. In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), team members left a copy of the UDHR and other materials, spoke to staffers and advocated for continued support of the UN and the need for strengthening the US-UN relationship.

Many team members also had opportunities to sit down with staffers in the offices of Representatives and Senators, where each group discussed the UN's stance on issues such as protecting reproductive rights, peacekeeping missions, the environment, human rights, education, the future of the United States within the United Nations and budgeting concerns.

DCFor DC, Legislative Director Bradley Truding in the office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton met with UNA-NCA staff and volunteers to discuss the Congresswoman’s continued support of the UN. Congresswoman Holmes Norton has long been a strong proponent of the United Nations, and has co-sponsored legislation in the House to protect funding to the UN during her nearly 30 years on the Hill. Our team also encouraged her office to continue working with other representatives in both the House and the Senate to support the work of the UN as she does. Despite the District not having a vote, Congresswoman Holmes Norton is able to accomplish a significant amount of work behind the scenes on important issues.

CA3B168C-D5CA-41A2-A754-E1CCD6A3CB28UNA-NCA staff and volunteers also met with Spencer Knoll, Legislative Correspondent for Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen. Knoll stated the Senator is extremely supportive of the UN and improving the US-UN relationship. In particular, Van Hollen is actively tracking the UNRWA funding cut and is watching the Administration’s non-spending of appropriated funds. He is also a member of the “Venezuela Subcommittee,” in which he keeps an eye on the humanitarian and refugee situation there. In anticipation of the 70th anniversary in December of the UDHR, Van Hollen stated interest in potentially collaborating with UNA-NCA on a social media video for the event.

Maryland Representatives Jamie Raskin from 8th District and Steny Hoyer, who serves as the Democratic Whip, from the 5th district both addressed the current 2019 U.S. budget and funding issues, along with their continued support of the United Nations. Raskin and Maryland’s 6th District’s John Delaney affirmed global education as a priority, and Hoyer, along with 3rd District’s John Sarbanes, stated interest in the UNA-NCA Global Classrooms DC Program.

Rep._ComstockAt the office of Congresswoman Barbara Comstock of the 10th District of Virginia, Legislative Assistant Allison Feikes shared that Congresswoman Comstock is a member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and is specifically concerned with the human rights issues in Myanmar/Burma. She also shared a high-level overview of the Congresswoman’s work on human trafficking with the “Save Our Skies” program. She shared that the Congresswoman is passionate about how “science can be used as a vehicle for diplomacy” and 21st-century medicine, and discussed the Childhood STAR Act, Inspire Women Act, and sexual harassment legislation. Feikes also shared that they often write letters to Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the United Nations, to urge her to support specific items, and also encourages UNA-NCA members in her district to reach out to her office, as well, to suggest issues that are important to them.

UNA-NCA staff and volunteers met with Christina Ingram, Legislative Assistant to 3rd District Virginia Congressman Robert Scott who shared that the Congressman is very supportive of human rights and funding for the UN. Zach Cafritz, Deputy Chief of Rep._BeyerStaff/Legislative Director, with the office of Congressman Don Beyer from the 8th District of Virginia stated that Representative Beyer’s district has many immigrants and many people who work for the State Department and other organizations that work in international affairs and support the work of the UN, and that Representative Beyer understands the value proposition the UN offers.

Senior Policy Advisor for National Security and Veterans’ Affairs, Carolina Wadham, in Virginia Senator Mark Warner’s office and Andrew Kalaris, Legislative Assistant to Virginia Senator Tim Kaine both stated that the Senators are full supporters of the UN, and will continue to support the UN’s mission and human rights initiatives. Maryland Senator Ben B5F898F8-45AE-4FE9-B6C1-F2F2E0CFA7F7Cardin and his staffer Valli Sanmugalingam acknowledged the possibility of the United States withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council but named Republican Senators that would be helpful in bipartisan collaboration in support of the United Nations and human rights.

The UNA-NCA team of staff and volunteers met with Legislative Assistant Molly Clare Cole in Representative Gerry Connolly’s office and Legislative Assistant Tripp Grant in Representative Tom Garrett’s office, as well as staff from the offices of Representative Rob Wittman, Representative Donald McEachin, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, and Representative Anthony Brown with a drop-in at Representative Scott Taylor’s office. They discussed refugee issues in Rohingya, Syria, and Cameroon, supporting global health initiatives and programs, fully funding the UN, UN programs, peacekeeping, and advocating for human rights.

In the office of Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, the team spoke with Jessue Lee  who stated the Senator will also continue to support the UN’s mission and full budgeting from the U.S. Lee stated the Senator’s focus area is in the Asia and South Pacific region and believes in having strong alliances with South Korea and Japan. In Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota’s office, the team spoke with Legislative Assistant Darren Hedlund who was encouraging about the importance of the United Nations and their work with human rights, with a colleague visiting a UN Peacekeeping mission in West Africa. Materials were also dropped off at the offices of Senators John Thune (SD), John Barrasso (WY), Jon Tester (MT), John Hoeven (ND), Michael Enzi (WY) Jack Reed (RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Jim Inhofe (OK).

2018_Advocacy_DayBy having constituents speak directly to their Congressional representatives, we had a tremendous impact, bringing the UN directly to Congress in ways that couldn’t have been done without our motivated members. UNA-NCA is encouraged by the support of the Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Representatives, Senators, and their staffs and their commitment to support the United Nations. We are looking forward to collectively collaborating over the next year and for next year’s 2019 UNA-USA Leadership Summit!